By Mary Margret Daughtridge
Today, April 1, is the official launch for SEALed With A Promise.
It's also my wedding anniversary.
It was tradition in my husband’s family to raise toasts at whatever sit-down meal preceded the wedding. In our case that was the wedding breakfast. My husband’s uncle stood up in a salt and pepper tweed sport coat, a pin stripe shirt, and a bright cobalt blue tie. I don’t remember the toast, but I’ll never forget how he introduced it.
“Mary Margret,” he said, bushy brows lowered in an admonitory look, “if you knew Everett the way we do, you wouldn’t marry him on April Fool’s.”
Everybody laughed for a full five minutes. We all knew Everett.
That’s the thing about wedding breakfasts. Not all the guests who will be at the ceremony later are not invited to it—only those who have fallen into the inner circle. They are the ones “in the know” at least on this one day.
Now there’s a funny thing about inner circles and in-crowds. They’re fluid and it can be hard to judge whether one is in and, if so, how far in. When it comes to weddings, there is however, one infallible measure. The more parties you are invited to, the further in you are. But the sine qua non of status is the wedding breakfast.
There’s another funny thing about in-crowds. Not everybody in one, knows it. A friend and I were talking about in-crowds in that cradle of all cliques: high school.
She said, “Oh, I wouldn’t know. I was never part of the in-crowd.”
“But…” I goggled at her for a moment, not sure if I was confused or if she was. “I thought you said you were president of the student body. And captain of the debate team. And president of the Beta Club. And...weren’t you on the girls’ basketball team?”
“Oh,” she said. “Yeah.”
In SEALed With a Promise, at a wedding breakfast I bring together two people who would both tell you that they are not now, nor have they ever been, part of any in-crowd.
Caleb has been all over the world, and done some amazing things, but this is the first wedding he’s ever been to, and he’s the best man. He’s studied etiquette books to prepare for his role (in his PDA he has a twenty-six item list of his duties), but a wedding at heart is a family affair. He was raised with no family at all except a single mother. He’s never been “in” a family. During the wedding rehearsal, with a Chief Petty Officer’s sensitivity to lines of command, as well as the more subtle currents of power that flow through any organization, he recognizes Emmie’s “in” status, and is puzzled by it.
Here's Emmie from his point of view.
Pickett and her sisters, who were her other attendants, were all remarkably pretty, remarkably poised women, while the friend [Emmie] had to be one of the blandest people he’d ever seen. It was like she intended to be a non-entity, but in a reverse way she stood out, precisely because there was nothing about her to draw the eye. Still, birds of a feather flock together. Puzzling how she could be Pickett’s friend was a way to keep himself entertained through the interminably silly proceedings. [the wedding rehearsal]
SEALs believed in rehearsal. A practice run for the ceremony was the first item on the three-day wedding agenda that had made total sense to Do-Lord—until he found out it was bad luck for the bride to rehearse her own part, so she sat on a pew, while the maid of honor pretended to be the bride. SEALs rehearsed one another’s roles all the time. But unless they thought Emmie would marry Jax if Pickett was out of commission, making her rehearse Pickett’s role in addition to her own didn’t make a lick of sense.
He also hadn’t seen why Emmie, whose arm was in a cobalt blue sling (the only colorful thing about her) had to mime bending down to straighten Pickett’s train, which as maid of honor was one of her duties. She shouldn’t have been doing it at all. Being able to use only one arm made her clumsy and it had to hurt like hell. He was standing right there, he could move the damn train. He’d give her credit, she hadn’t complained once, but he’d been so irritated after a while, he’d had to find a way to take his mind off it.
Emmie easily recognizes Caleb’s “in” status. She teaches biology at the local university. She’s familiar with jocks. True, Chief Petty Officer Caleb Dulaude isn’t a football star, he’s a SEAL. But really. Miami Dolphins, Navy SEALs—what’s the difference?
She knows the type. They’re the ones everyone wants to get close to. Most of them would never willingly be seen with her, and in fact, they believe they’ve done her favor when they show up for the biology elective for non-majors she teaches.
She’s prepared to be met with disdain when she must ask for Caleb's help. What she’s not prepared for is for him to act like suddenly they’re a couple. Of course, she doesn’t realize her inherited insider status with Senator Teague Calhoun (which means nothing to her) is exactly the chink in Calhoun’s armor that Caleb has been looking for.
Even outsiders want to be insiders sometimes. They can each see how the other is “in.” But even though they’re falling in love, until they define themselves as on the inside with each other they won't be ready for the happy ending.
So how about you? Have there been moments you knew you were in?
You can definitely be "in" with me. To celebrate the launch of SEALed With a Promise I'm giving away signed copies. The in-crowd will be the first two people who email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to mention this blog.